Life with Dogs

–2014-2016–

From Notes, the first years with Dachshunds, by Alex Monday 

I don’t know if I can stand to be needed  that much—the way dogs need you. She said.
The Boy wasn’t sure. He only knew he needed dogs.

The Hounds watch him with soulful eyes. If he speaks, they tipped their heads back and forth, ears cocked forward. Trying to understand his words. He means to write. But he stays in the park and plays with The Hound pups. Hours slip by. Shadows lengthen. Then shorten again as the earth rotates away from the sun. Morning becomes afternoon. Afternoon becomes evening…

They camp overnight. The Boy awakes in near dark to birds softly discussing the grey light. The park is empty except for birds. He drives slowly. Looking at everything. Maples are beautiful in spring. The Boy says to no one. Early sun casts a hundred shades of green in all the trees.

The Boy takes them on a road trip.

When he writes they sit and stare at him. Round eyes, brown eyes, one blue eye, waiting, asking. What? Why? When?


The Boy leans against his car, watching the sky.

Red Hound sees a dark towel, bunched into a form the size of a small animal, lying at the bottom of the deck  steps.
He stalks stiff-legged toward it. Threatening in low, short bluffs. The hair stands four inches taller on his back.
The Red Hound stuffs his face into the towel, realizing his suspicion was unfounded. To save face he continues to cast about for the scent of an intruder.

Bode sits, then jumps. Pawing at the sky, ears flopping back.
One blue, one half-blue eye giving him a rakish look. He barks a happy sound. Like a laugh. Or a “Hey you–come play!”
Eight months old. And just back from a 2,700-mile road trip down the West Coast. The Boy can’t imagine how he lived before.


The Hounds come bounding toward him in a sea of green.
Refracting light painting a swath of red fur and a matching one of golden-sorrel.

The Boy’s heart is a singing blackbird bursting from his chest. His voice coming out in a wild yodel. He jumps, fingers reaching for the sun.

The Red Hound corners a duck. They race; cutting tighter and tighter corners.The duck breaks and goes under the fence to the hen-house.
The Boy scolds. The Red Hound sits down—his fun spoiled.

The Boy finds duck eggs almost lost in a pile of farm debris and wasted pampas reeds.
In the western corner of the pastures five luminous orbs.
The shells translucent, waxy.
Duck eggs differ from chicken. More water than earth.

The Boy cleans the eggs off in the wet grass and fills his pockets with them.
The Hounds watch with bright eyes.
Roosters strut across the yard, brilliant in the sun, proud as kings.


That summer stretched on forever. Made you believe it would never end.  Even in October, it was still warm into the evenings. The Red Alder trees thought spring was eternal. Catkins and cones grew in the off-season.  Rain came late in the month.

Red Hounds’ fur was soft and warm and smelled of tomato-plants from his romp in the garden.

A small cluster of bubbles, like frog eggs, spun concentric circles in the stainless-steal water bowl.  Red Hound sniffed suspiciously, tail high.
The Boy laughed. It’s alright, Red. Just bubbles. Red drank the silver water. Bode followed him onto the stairs.

The Boy laid a quilt out for the pups on the deck where he worked. They knew that quilt was for them. Bode mouthed an old shoe-lace. Red Hound scraped and gnawed a bone. The Boy was busy with his Toshiba.  They crept closer across the quilt until they were both touching him.

Violins wailed through the speakers. It hurt his heart a little; they were so perfect.
Red Hound and his  brother curled into a yin/yang; dreaming.  He pulled the quilt over on top of them.

The Boys’ fingers ran over the keyboard: In some ways, they are as old as we are –yet as young as never…


 

09:30. Saturday. The Boy stops at Vitacafé  and buys an Ethiopian grown coffee and a pastry, to go.  He leaves the girl a tip. He parts with 6.50
He  feels like a million bucks on his way to the boatyard.

A perfect morning. Clouds divide for the sun. Blue atmosphere looks down at a green basin holding blue water.

The Hounds are along for this ride. He sings Willie Nelson.” On the road again…” 
The Boy hums and beat-boxes. The Hounds watch from the back seat. The yard is full of boats up on blocks. Patiently waiting for their hulls to be serviced. The Boy imagines a Noah’s ark with every dog breed the world knows


The Boy lies in the middle of the floor and plays long primal notes on the Didgeridoo.

Red Hound and Bode wrestle a Shakespearean act around him. Bode squirms himself into an imaginary den under the open slats of a child-sized rocking-chair. He barks gleefully as Red Hound chases a tennis ball past him. He wants to play Get-the-Badger! Red Hound stops. Distracted. He sniffs along the edge of the hearth for wood chips to chew. Suddenly he sneezes. The Boy laughs. Both pups jump and dance. Tails wagging. Mini-dumbo-ears flopping up and down.

Pip watches through her eyebrows from the back of the couch. She is only interested in Delivery trucks and squirrels. She caught a big grey one once.  Pip is of the Terrier Clan; born to catch small rodents. Pip knows this in her heart and is proud of her genetic skill.

Bode licks the end of the Didgeridoo—trying to taste vibration. The Boy makes a high, barking sound, followed by a bull-frog grunt, through the hollow tree painted with geckos and suns. The pups jump on his head. They think he plays just for them.

Pip watches all.


 

The Boy is dreaming of Spring; representation of possibility in all great literature, throughout all civilizations, to all men who dare to hope.
He smokes hand-rolled cigarettes from his own blend of fancy tobacco in the lattice-sided gazebo.

A canvas with invisible masters. The sky is a vast panorama; forever changing.
This bowl of sky is rimmed in by mountains and islands.  Along the southern edge, a harbor with a lighthouse. Here eagles nest and sailing masts cast long shadows over floating docks.

The Boy gets up every night, somewhere before morning, and takes the Hounds outside. He wakes up every morning, somewhere between five and six.
He has for his whole life. Even on Saturdays in spring when he was only seven.

The Boy watches an eagle circling over the islands. The Hounds smell for squirrels under the ivy and hunt ants in the late afternoon sun.


There is no wind.
The Hounds follow Betty.
Fog is a blanket of solitude over the islands; land steaming on a winter day. The Glacier-fjord we call Puget Sound is one giant reflecting pool.
The boats, mainly sailing vessels, meditate on the science that allows them to languish at their spring-lines without rolling over and sinking to the darkness below.

Red Hound and Bode chase each other through a maze.
Viewing the world from a perspective ten inches off the ground, everything becomes a game. Over power cords, mooring lines, crates. Past WSU/ UW fan-benches, stacked lumber, an overturned dingy. Back, around The Old Man of the Sea chainsaw carving.

Betty, a black and white piebald Heeler-mix, runs bellowing and snorting after every gull down every finger-pier along the docks.
The birds fly away laughing: HA! HA! HA! 

The Boy marvels at a perfect silk web, spun between shore-power cord and the pulpit of a sleeping Hunter36; liquid pearls, or tinsel…

Fog moves silently closer.

 

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